As the success of more and more businesses depends on the creation, use and storage of information, the growth of today’s data centers shows no signs of slowing. Energy experts estimate that over the past decade, the consumption of energy by data centers alone has swelled to over 1% of the global use of electricity. And since the data center market is predicted to experience at least 5% annual growth over the next few years, it’s critical to know how to optimize your data center operations.
Of course, the power needed to operate servers and other IT equipment only accounts for part of a data center’s total energy consumption. You also need a robust cooling system to protect chips and other sensitive components from overheating. As such, it’s essential to manage the temperature in your data center in a cost-effective manner.
Power Costs for a Data Center’s Cooling System
The need for high-performance data centers has increased as the world has continued to have a more prominent virtual presence. This change signifies that a larger power capacity is needed to meet various applications and keep up with evolving and complex business operations. These performance enhancements require larger power densities to function at the highest levels. With increased power densities comes the need for strengthened infrastructure to ensure everything operates smoothly and efficiently. These components combine and drive data center cooling costs up.
How much does it cost to cool a data center? A cooling system is one of the most expensive parts of any data center. According to research, anywhere between 30% to 55% of a data center’s energy consumption goes into powering its cooling and ventilation systems — with the average hovering around 40%.
Your cooling system may also have problems with bypass airflow, which is any conditioned air that does not pass through IT equipment before returning to the cooling system. This process may also be taking a big chunk of your data cooling costs, leading to you spending more than you should be. In short, a data center’s cooling costs can approach, equal or even surpass the cost of powering the IT equipment it houses.
Data Center Energy Efficiency
Regardless of the size of a data center, its energy efficiency can be substantially affected by the performance of its cooling system. That’s why it’s advisable to consider how the following factors impact a data center’s overall energy efficiency:
- Ventilation and airflow management: Recent studies show that the traditional horizontal placement of servers on racks can result in the mixing of hot and cold air flows, which reduces the efficiency of any thermal management system. In contrast, airflow management and ventilation are more efficient when servers are placed with optimal spacing — vertically in racks. These racks can be either closed cabinets or open, vertically oriented racks. This arrangement allows for the maximum utilization of natural convection.
- Data center location selection: Computer room air handling systems are often coupled with air-side economizer units that can make use of cooler, drier outside air when the outside temperature is sufficiently low. The selection of a data center’s location — and subsequently its outside climate — will impact how much energy its cooling system will require for adequate heat transfer to occur.
- Energy consumption: It’s also important to compare a data center’s projected energy consumption to the energy prices in different locations and climates. For instance, a data center in a rural location with a cooler, drier climate will cost less to operate than one in a more expensive urban location with a warmer, more humid climate.
- Oversize design capacity: When creating your data center, you likely ran into the problem of how to size it. Too small and you could run out of space or power in a few short years, rendering it obsolete. As a result, you may have decided to oversize your data center. This ultimately decreases its overall efficiency and performance, leading to higher data cooling prices you don’t need.
- Proper maintenance: Continual maintenance will help your cooling system stay up and running as efficiently as possible. Performance tends to fall off when filters are clogged or towers aren’t thoroughly cleaned. It is also wise to keep an eye on your internal heat loads and external ambient weather conditions, ensuring you’re optimizing them for high performance.
Work With DataSpan for Your Cooling Solutions
Your data cooling system is an integral part of your center. This system helps prevent heat spots and moisture buildup, which can potentially damage your equipment, reduce its life span and cause failures.
At DataSpan, we have almost five decades of experience providing data centers with turnkey operational solutions. We’ll work with your needs and schedule, advising you on everything related to the design, selection, installation and maintenance of cooling and ventilation systems — all in a manner that’s vendor-agnostic and focused on your needs. No matter what help you require, our team is ready to do whatever it takes to get the job done right.
Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about our comprehensive cooling solutions!